For quality dim sum
China Club, The
Often in Dubai, dim sum is a sad trolley-less affair. Not so at The China Club, where the yum cha is one of the restaurant’s crowning glories. After dodging a series of snack-packed carts, head to your seat and sample a bevy of moist dumplings, chicken and sweetcorn soup and delicate meat-filled buns. Even during the traditionally sedate summer months, the place gets packed, so you’re going to want to call ahead to book.
China Club, The, Radisson SAS Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek (04 205 7333). Yum cha available Sat-Thu 12noon-3pm, Fri 11.30pm-3pm daily, Dhs95 including tea and some soft drinks. All major credit cards accepted
For food that was crawling five minutes ago
The decor may be nothing to look at, but for pure novelty Deira’s 2000 Restaurant offers some choice picks. On a recent visit, we sampled a starter of honey-drenched Chinese figs as well as a saucy dish of tortoise and lotus flower (the latter required chewing the meat off rounds of vertebrae and spitting out the bones). For the less adventurous, the restaurant also serves standard Shanghai fare, though if that’s what you’re in the mood for, you can get better grub at the city’s other Chinese restaurants
Salahuddin Street, Deira (04 271 2000), next to the Renaissance Dubai Hotel. Open 11am-3pm, 6pm-12.30pm daily. Cash only. Average price of a meal for two with soft drinks, Dhs100-200
For Chinese food with an Indian kick
‘Fusion cuisine’ might conjure up images of snooty chefs, tiny portions and astronomical prices, but a quick dash through Karama shatters any preconceptions of pretension. Some cuisines – such as Chinese and Indian – fuse organically (the two countries are neighbours, after all), creating another, wholly foriegn category of food. Grab some Indo-Chinese grub at Aapa Kadai. We’re partial to the vegetable and chicken Chinese combos, which come with spicy chicken and gravy over rice. And unlike all the five-star, high-concept, fusion-touting restaurants in town, two can eat quite well for a mere Dhs60.
Karama opposite LuLu supermarket. (04 334 8030). Open weekdays 11.30am-3.30pm, 6.30-midnight, weekends 11.30am-3.30pm, 6.30pm-12.30am. Cash only
For fans of Peking duck
Peking duck always sounds like it’s going to be a treat, but often it’s the victim of poor technique. After scoffing our fair share of over-dry or under-crisp birds, to eat Shang Palace’s version of the dish is pure pleasure. A close examination of the carefully carved morsels reveal juicy meat underneath a layer of properly crisp skin. The accompanying hoi sin sauce is also not overly sweet (an attribute that wrecks many a duck pancake in this town).
Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel, Sheik Zayed Road (04 343 8888). Open 12:30pm-3pm, 8pm-12midnight daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of house wine Dhs600-700
For waiters that perform spectacular tricks
Noble House, The
In all fairness, Noble House has more to offer than dexterous waiters (though the things they can do with a kettle…). Their food, haute Chinese at its finest, helped win them three Time Out Restaurant Awards last year, and their performing waiters, who defy gravity every time they pour a cup of tea, were the icing on the cake. Highlights of our last meal included a pan-fried foie gras and mango duck roll and wok-fried lobster alongside black pepper wagyu beef. However, it is hard to go wrong with any order at this, one of Dubai’s finest restaurants.
Noble House, The, Raffles Dubai, (04 324 8888) Open 7pm-11.30pm daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of house wine Dhs1,200
To cook your own food
Smiling Bar-B-Q & Shabu Shabu
While some may feel that teppanyaki, shabu-shabu, and all types of ‘cook-your-own’ fare defeat the purpose of eating in a restaurant, these forms of dining can help you bond with your food. At Smiling Bar-B-Q & Shabu Shabu (the latter referring to food boiled in a hotpot), the customers are provided with fresh, and often inventive, ingredients, which they are invited to cook up themselves. We enjoy chucking tender chunks of lamb, shitake mushrooms and Chinese cabbage into the cauldron of herby, chicken broth. You can eat the resultant concoction as a soup, or pick out the cooked pieces with a pair of chopsticks.
Smiling Bar-B-Q & Shabu Shabu, 8a Street, off Al Hudaiba Street, Satwa (04 344 5433). Open daily 11am-12 midnight. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with soft drinks Dhs100
For good Chinese desserts
After polishing off a Chinese meal, it’s probably fair to say that most of us stop at the mains. This is because outside of fortune cookies and a handful of lychee-inflected puddings, the landscape of good Chinese pastries tends to be rather sparse. Not so at Zheng He’s, where patrons are spoiled for choice. A deep-fried banana fritter topped with hokey pokey ice cream may have done little to clear our arteries, but it did perform the appropriate dance on our palettes. And we were equally impressed with the exotic-sounding chilled lemongrass jelly served with crystal green tea dumplings. Unfortunately, while the sweets threaten to steal the show at this romantic, Madinat-based venue, the starters and mains give such an overwhelmingly powerful performance that often there just isn’t room for every course in the stage that is my stomach.
Zheng He’s, Mina A’Salam, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 8888). Open 12noon-2.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with wine Dhs600-700
For a yummy break in your shopping regime
Located in the heart of Deira City Centre, China Times offers surprisingly good grub. It’s piping hot crabmeat and sweetcorn soup definitely put the food court’s burger joints to shame. Opt for the butter-soft scallops, served alongside asparagus and celery. The dish’s garlic and ginger sauce seeps into the fluffy rice, creating a sophisticated mouthful that will complement your new Swiss watch.
China Times, Deira City Centre, (04 295 2515). Open 11am-12midnight daily. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a soft drinks Dhs100-200.